Genetics Nurse: Education and Career Information
Have the sciences and genetics always fascinated you? Are you a compassionate and caring person who wants a career as a nurse? You may be a perfect candidate to become a genetics nurse. This is a specialized position that focuses on caring for patients who are at risk for genetic-based diseases. A very rewarding and lucrative position, you can make a difference by helping families prepare themselves for what may occur or what is already going on through effective care.
What does a Genetics Nurse do?
A genetics nurse is a licensed registered nurse that is specially trained in genetics. This role assists individuals who are at risk for common diseases that have a genetic component, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. They have a number of tasks to complete, including analyzing the genetic contributions of who is at risk for the disease, performing risk assessments, discussing the impact on the management of the patient’s care, providing education, research and nursing care.
They work with patients who may already be suffering from genetic diseases. They can specialize in genetics for pediatrics or adults. These nurses also take detailed medical histories, administer treatments and conditions, interpret laboratory data, coordinate healthcare needs, and create patient care plans. Advanced practice nurses in genetics have a larger role, including receiving referrals from other healthcare teams and providing genetic counseling. They have a role of leadership in the community and write articles for the public on genetics and care.
There are certain genetic nurses that only work in research laboratories, and do not have contact with patients unless they are conducting research. They help to identify risk factors, pinpoint causes and work to develop treatments and cures for genetic diseases and disorders. You will find these nurses in prenatal centers, cancer centers, school health clinics, ambulatory care settings, research centers, specialty clinics, pediatric clinics, universities and other medical facilities.
How much does a genetics nurse earn?
On average, a starting genetics nurse earns $43,410, but he or she does have the potential to make up to $92,240 per year. The median salary is about $62,450 per year. This number increases with education, experience and location. The addition of specialized certifications further increases the earning potential, roles and responsibilities. The demand for nurses in specialized areas continues to grow.
What types of skills are needed to become a genetics nurse?
There are a number of skills needed to be successful as a genetics nurse:
Communication: Communication is one of the top skills needed to be productive and effective in this role. This position requires a high degree of communication to patients, their families, healthcare professionals and the community-at-large. The nurse must be able to speak clearly, and write clearly to properly disseminate information that the outside world can comprehend.
Research: This is a research-intensive role. The genetics nurse must be able to understand and absorb huge quantities of information in order to work effectively with healthcare professionals, give their patients and their families correct information, and to stay current and abreast of new developments in the area.
Technology: This role must know how to use technology on every level. They must be adept at learning new machinery, must be able to use the machines their patients are using, and how to use computers and software that is used throughout the facility to ensure they are logging correct information.
Supervision: The genetics nurse must be able to supervise a number of people and projects at one time. They must have a strong attention to detail, and can use sound judgment on every level.
Administrative: This role has a number of administrative requirements. They must be able to keep track of patient records, their own writings, working with the community, scheduling appointments, and conducting training with patients, medical professionals and their families.
Every program has certain clinical internship requirements that must be completed. In addition to the formal education requirements, clinical experience is needed. Education and training throughout their career is also required in the form of continuing education credits.
In order to become a genetics nurse, the student must first enter into a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. This is a four-year program. Once the initial program is completed, the student must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to show proficiency in the knowledge and technical skills required to perform the job. Once the nurse obtains their license, they must pursue work in this area.
Most nurses go on to get their master’s degree, which is an additional two years of educational requirements. During this time, the nurse should be gaining experience in genetics to become qualified to sit for the Genetic Nursing Credentialing Commission (GNCC). To sit for this exam, the nurse must have five years of verifiable experience as a clinical genetics nurse, with 50 cases logged and completion of at least 45 hours of continuing education. Certifications must be renewed every couple of years to remain active.
For those genetics nurses that want to teach or achieve the advanced practice nursing designation, they may want to pursue a doctoral degree, which requires an additional two years of study. The advanced education of master’s and doctoral degrees opens up the doors to more opportunities, and a higher salary. Nurses with the experience and educational background become directors and perform in supervisory roles, serving as community and research liaisons.
This is a very rewarding career for those nurses who are interested in the world of genetics. There are many genetic problems and patients at risk who need caring and compassionate nurses who work hard to make a difference and help others understand genetic disorders. For someone who is fascinated with science and all that it offers, lending a hand as a genetics nurse will work for the betterment of the profession and help patients comprehend their conditions better.
Several nursing programs are available at the bachelor's, post-graduate, master's, and doctoral levels.
- Nursing (BS)
A degree from CTU connects you to what matters most: powerful professional network, real-world professional faculty and innovative technology. Once you earn your degree you hit the ground running.
- Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN completion)
- Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Education
Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.
- Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Administration
- Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator
- BS in Nursing (RN to BSN)
Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education.
- MS in Nursing
- Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
- Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
- And more...
Grand Canyon University - College of Nursing & Health Care Professions. Online & Campus - Bachelor's and Master's Degrees!
- B.S. in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to B.S.N)
- M.S. in Nursing: Health Care Informatics (Bridge)
- M.S. in Nursing: Public Health (Bridge)
- And more...
Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.
- Doctor of Education - Nursing Education
Give your career a boost with an education from Southern New Hampshire University.
- MS Nursing
- MS Nursing: Patient Safety and Quality
- MS Nursing: Clinical Nurse Leader
- And more...
As a student at South University, you will have the opportunity to learn from accomplished faculty members who have real-world experience in the subjects that they teach. Our small class sizes allow you to receive personalized attention from instructors, and the encouragement to recognize your goals for the future and the means to achieve them.
- Nursing (BS)
Start a great career in healthcare with Medical Careers Institute.
- Nursing (RN-BSN) - Bachelor's
- Nursing (RN) - Associate's
- Practical Nursing - Diploma
- And more...
At Fortis Institute, you may get the skills and training you need to prepare for a career.
* Programs vary by location
* Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information
- Associate Degree in Nursing
- Practical Nursing
- Medical Assistant
For over 35 years, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals.
- Master of Science in Nursing
Centura College, with campus locations in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida.
- Practical Nursing Diploma
- Associate of Occupational Science Degree in Medical Assisting-Clinical Concentration
Technology changes everything®
You’ve found Ashford University, where school comes to you
- BS/Nursing (RN to BSN)
Miller-Motte Technical College (MMTC) can help get you from here to a new career!
- Medical Assisting - Associate of Occupational Science
Study online with California University of Pennsylvania.
- RN-BSN (Bachelor of Science) - Online
- Dual Degree: MSN-MBA (MSN-MBA) - Online
- MSN Nursing Administration & Leadership (Master of Science) - Online